Local dairy farmers have no beef with Japan deal

PYREE dairy farmer and former chair of the Dairy Farmers Milk Co-operative, Ian Zandstra said the new free trade deal with Japan will not affect local producers.

Victorian dairy farmers have expressed “extreme disappointment” over the new deal, labelling it a “dud”.

Japan bought $511 million of Australian dairy exports in 2012-13, the country’s biggest customer, but at a cost of more than $100 million a year in tariffs and other costs.

The industry had hoped for a substantial reprieve on tariffs on fresh cheese exports. The new deal will save dairy exporters just $4.7 million in its first year, a figure that will rise to just $11.6 million by 2031. 

“Our products aren’t used in fresh cheese manufacture and then exported like they are in Victoria,” Mr Zandstra said.

“The dairy industry thought there would be quantum change in the tariff rate, but compared to the beef industry there really wasn’t.

“With the scaling down of the car industry dairy farmers probably thought there might have been a better trade-off.”

He said the only local impact could be if there was an increased demand for Australian dairy products, which could impact the exporting milk price, and that might drive up the national farm gate milk price.

Local cheese manufacturers, Unicorn Cheese, said the new deal would not impact its operation, as the locally produced brie and camembert were not exported.

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